Women’s Tennis Stays Out of China Through 2022 over Peng Shuai Case

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Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) CEO Steve Simon said on Sunday that tournaments will remain suspended in China until 2023.

The WTA canceled all tournaments in China in December 2021 to protest China’s treatment of women’s tennis champion Peng Shuai after she accused former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault.

The WTA was one of the few sports organizations to flatly reject the Chinese Communist Party’s claims that Peng retracted her allegations against Zhang without any coercion. In contrast, Peng supporters criticized the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for working with the Communist government to convey the impression nothing was wrong and Peng was not speaking under duress when she not only recanted her accusation but claimed she had never made it.

“We remain dedicated to finding a resolution to this,” Simon told the Tennis Podcast on Sunday. “We want to find a resolution that Peng can be comfortable with, the Chinese government can be comfortable with, and we can be comfortable with.”

(COMBO) This combination of file photos shows tennis player Peng Shuai of China (L) during her women's singles first round match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 16, 2017; and Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli (R) during a visit to Russia at the Saint Petersburg International Investment Forum in Saint Petersburg on June 18, 2015. - Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai said she was safe and well during a video call with the International Olympic Committee chief on November 21, 2021, the organisation said, amid international concern about her well-being after being seen attending a Beijing tennis tournament, marking her first public appearance since she made her accusations against former vice premier Zhang Gaoli. (Photo by Paul CROCK and Alexander ZEMLIANICHENKO / AFP) (Photo by PAUL CROCK,ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/AFP via Getty Images)

This combination of file photos shows tennis player Peng Shuai of China (L) during her women’s singles first round match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 16, 2017; and Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli (R) during a visit to Russia at the Saint Petersburg International Investment Forum in Saint Petersburg on June 18, 2015. (PAUL CROCK,ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/AFP via Getty Images)

“We are not about walking away from China. We have suspended our operations there right now. We will continue to do that until we get to a resolution,” he said.

“We will stay resolute. We do hope to be back there in 2023 with the resolution that shows progress was made in the space. That’s a victory for the world if we can accomplish that,” he added.

Simon noted the WTA has “not had any communication with Peng,” and indeed she vanished from public view again after the Beijing Winter Olympics concluded.

Peng’s supporters, including some pro tennis players, were disappointed that the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) — the men’s league — did not join the WTA in boycotting China. The ATP currently has four tournaments scheduled for China in the coming season.

“They don’t have a member that’s affected here,” Simon told the Tennis Podcast. “Would we love to have their support on what we are standing for there and the issues? Absolutely. But we are not trying to influence their decision in any way, it has to be theirs.”

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